Episode: Jesus was faithful to us in dying on the cross. But how does this inform faith? And does Jesus’ faithfulness stop at the cross, or does it extend into his on-going life as the resurrected and exalted one? What might all of this say about the disputed pistis Christou phrase? And did you know that in addition to coauthoring a book, David Downs and Benjamin Lappenga have run a marathon? Or that Lappenga fronted a Seattle rock band? OnScript co-hosts Matthew Bates and Erin Heim welcome guests David Downs and Benjamin Lappenga to speak about their new book, The Faithfulness of the Risen Christ.
Guests: Dr. David J. Downs is Clarendon-Laing Associate Professor in New Testament Studies at Oxford University’s Keble College. Previously he was a professor of Biblical Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from Clemson, Fuller, and Princeton, having served as a teaching fellow at Princeton and a visiting professor at Holy Cross. In addition to the book we are discussing today, The Faithfulness of the Risen Christ (Baylor University Press, 2019), David has also published Alms (Baylor University Press, 2016) and The Offering of the Gentiles (Mohr Siebeck, 2008; repr. Eerdmans, 2016), as well as numerous journal articles.
Dr. Benjamin Lappenga holds a PhD. From Fuller Seminary in theology (New Testament). He was previously Associate Professor of Theology and Department Chair at Dordt College near Sioux City, Iowa. He is also the author of Paul’s Language of Ζῆλος: Monosemy and the Rhetoric of Identity and Practice (Leiden: Brill, 2016).
The Book: David J. Downs and Benjamin J. Lappenga, The Faithfulness of the Risen Christ: Pistis and the Exalted Lord in the Pauline Letters (Baylor University Press, 2019). The pistis Christou construction in Paul’s letters has ignited heated debates among Pauline scholars and theologians. On the one side, some claim that the phrase denotes human faith placed in Christ. Others, however, contend that pistis Christou in Paul alludes to the faithfulness of Christ himself, with Christ’s pistis chiefly demonstrated in his willingness to suffer and die upon the cross. Yet both sides of this debate overlook Paul’s emphasis on the faithfulness and continuing work of the risen and exalted Christ. Downs and Lappenga effectively reframe any future consideration of the pistis Christou construction for both New Testament scholars and theologians by showing that the story of Jesus in the letters of Paul extends to the faithfulness of the exalted Christ Jesus, who will remain faithful to those justified through union with Christ. (Publisher’s description, abridged).
The OnScript Quip (our review): Downs and Lappenga open the shutters and remove the blinds. Once we see the that “the faith of Christ” includes the faithfulness of the risen and exalted Christ, Paul’s letters will never look the same. The Faithfulness of the Risen Christ is an enlightening and energetic contribution that is sure to reshape academic and pastoral conversations about how “faith” and “faithfulness” interface in salvation. — Matthew W. Bates, Quincy University, OnScript
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